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Moss wins Emmy for portraying totalitarian cult victim and doesn’t care what you think about it

As expected, actress Elisabeth Moss took home the Emmy award last night for her role in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, besting her fellow nominees for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Claire Foy (The Crown), Keri Russell (The Americans), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder), Robin Wright (House of Cards), and Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld). The Handmaid’s Tale also won the Emmy for Best Dramatic Series.

In Moss’s acceptance speech, she raised some eyebrows for dropping an f-bomb on live television (which was bleeped out in time by quick-thinking CBS censors). After thanking a laundry list of industry people in her speech, as you do, Moss said, “And my mother. You are brave and strong and smart and you have taught me that you can be kind and a fucking badass.”

Well, in Scientology cursing is practically a sacrament, so maybe Moss’s indecorum shouldn’t be unexpected.

It was journalist Anna Merlan, back in April, who was the first that we saw to bring up what seemed like a very good question. How, Merlan asked, could Elisabeth Moss, a lifelong member of the controlling, totalitarian Church of Scientology, portray Offred, the protagonist in the latest adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which portrays a controlling, totalitarian imagined future dystopia?


Since then, quite a few others have remarked on the casting of a Scientologist in such a role, and in May we addressed it by juxtaposing Moss’s lines in a key scene from the series with actual FBI testimony in a recently-released investigation of brutal conditions in Scientology’s Sea Organization.

Here’s a sample from that piece. We thought it was pretty clever…


Now that Moss has won the Emmy, we expect there’s going to be another round of think-pieces about her ability — what, is it hypocrisy? Indifference? A call for help? — which allowed her to play such a role without really addressing the questions by the media about her life in Scientology.

But we were also struck last night by how unconcerned one former member of the Sea Organization was at the news of Moss winning the Emmy. Jefferson Hawkins not only was in the Sea Org, he bore the brunt of some of its most brutal treatment, reportedly being the target of Scientology leader David Miscavige’s physical attacks. And yet, when Moss got her trophy, he wasn’t put out in the least…


As for Moss’s mother, who received such a notable form of thanks, Linda Moss is a professional musician, a blues harmonica player, and you kind of have to admit, that is pretty much the definition of “fucking badass.”


[Linda Moss at the 2001 Houston Women’s Festival]

Last year, we worked with our Hollywood Celebrity Centre source to come up with a list of Scientology’s most important celebrities, and to try to understand which of them might be most likely to follow the examples of Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, and Leah Remini and make a public exit.

Most of the church’s most well-known celebs are bitter-enders, he told us, and are going nowhere. But a few have a small chance of walking away, and among them he listed Elisabeth Moss (as well as Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, Beck Hansen, Erika Christensen, Catherine Bell, and Michael Peña).

Specifically, he mentioned Moss’s mother, Linda. “She’s iffy about Scientology, and they are close,” he told us last year. “Elisabeth is more of a loner who doesn’t spend much time around other Scientologists, and her parents are not active.”

Still, he told us, the chances that Moss or any of the others he named might actually walk away from the church were very small. But it might be worth keeping that in mind as you ponder how she was able to speak her lines in what turned out to be the year’s most highly-decorated show.

Meanwhile, there was another drama unfolding last night at the Emmy awards that really got noticed Down Under.

Nicole Kidman won the award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role in HBO’s Big Little Lies. And when she picked up the award, she took time to thank her two young daughters, Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret: “I have two little girls — Sunnie and Faith. And my darling Keith who I asked to help me pursue this artistic path. And they have sacrificed so much for it.”

No mention, however, of her two older children with Tom Cruise, Isabella and Connor. Whoops.

“Nicole Kidman has delivered the perfect acceptance speech at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards — but there was one small oversight that stuck out to some viewers,” said News Corp’s Australian website,

Why would Kidman leave off mention of her adopted older kids? Well, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder had one answer…


If you remember, in the movie Going Clear, former Scientology enforcer Mark “Marty” Rathbun says that it was the job of church spokesman Tommy Davis to convince Isabella and Connor that their mother was an “SP” — a Suppressive Person, what Scientology labels its enemies and requires members to cut off all ties to.

And that leads us to the celebrity question we get these days perhaps more than any other…

How can a Scientologist like Elisabeth Moss work with someone the church considers an SP, Nicole Kidman, in the BBC’s Top of the Lake: China Girl, which was filmed in 2015?

To those who ask, we point out that in Scientology celebrities are treated differently and can ignore some rules, and Moss wouldn’t be told not to do lucrative work which benefits her career. But more importantly, while Kidman’s children may have been told she’s been declared an SP by the church, Nicole has never actually denounced the church publicly in any way.

So for that reason, it doesn’t really surprise us that Moss is working with her. What we don’t expect, however, is to see Elisabeth palling around with Leah Remini anytime soon.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,877 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 23 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,086 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,860 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,634 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,980 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,474 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,514 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,226 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 752 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,841 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,981 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,301 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,276 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 632 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,934 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,041 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,443 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,316 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 897 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,402 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,646 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,755 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 18, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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